by Lightspeed Magazine
I'm amazed at how unthinkingly cruel teachers can be.
This is a great example of exactly why I love this project, and backed it. Thanks for sharing!
In 1969, when I was 3, I woke up early, flopped down in front of our tv, and watched the big rocket take off. The only thing I ever wanted to be was an astronaut. I had a book called You Will Go To The Moon, and I read it over and over. Worlds away from each other (Hawaii-Germany), we became little girls having the same dream. I'm so glad to read the dreams in stories (and sometimes write about them).
We recently went to the National Air and Space annex at Dulles, where my daughter (3) saw her first space shuttle. "I want to go in," she said. "You can't," we explained. "Only astronauts can go in space shuttles." "Then I want to be an astronaut RIGHT NOW," she said emphatically. We certainly didn't sneak her onto the shuttle at the museum, nor did we explain that space shuttles like she saw are not (sadly) a thing of the past, but she's hanging onto that idea of being an astronaut pretty firmly, and we're glad to support her on that for as long as it's her dream.
Here's hoping that the more women write science fiction and work in the sciences and do things like explore space, the more teachers will find such ideas laudable rather than laughable.
I always wanted to be an astronaut, too. I came as close as I could; for me that was graduating with a degree from MIT Aero/Astro, the program that has produced the most civilian astronauts. What I learned, mostly, was that America has a long LONG way to go before everybody has an equal opportunity to even apply.
Now that we've collectively gathered tons of research on space and its effects on human biology, it seems ridiculous to continue restricting the astronaut pool to "flawless" able-bodied people who are overwhelmingly white, male, and heterosexual. Yet the status quo remains. No glasses, no Lasik, no disabilities of any kind. (What a stimulating, challenging diversity of thoughts, opinions, and experiences that must bring to every shuttle crew. What a fantastic, multifaceted presentation of humanity to send out into the Universe. Yes, that was all sarcasm.)
It also seems that in this age of flight simulation software and control systems, when the majority of pilots in the Air Force fly only RPAs (remote-piloted aircraft), civilians should have the same access to flight training that military personnel do. Yet again, the status quo is as white, male, heterosexual, and legacy-based as ever. If you want to fly, your options are to get rich or to sign your life away to the military whether you are comfortable with war (let alone the violence you will likely incur as a female member of the US military) or not.
Science fiction, at least, should have a place for us whose dreams are shut down before they start, for no legitimate reason.